Carpets – The basics
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Nylon was once a common material in the construction of carpets. Both nylon 6 and nylon 6-6 are sill used: nylon can be dyed topically or dyed in a molten state (solution dying).
Nylon can be printed easily and has excellent wear characteristics. In carpets, nylon tends to stain easily because it possesses dye sites on the fibre.
These dye sites need to be filled in order to give nylon any type of stain resistance. As nylon is petroleum-based it varies in price with the price of oil.
Polypropylene is used to produce carpet yarns, because it is more affordable than nylon. It is difficult to dye and does not wear as well as wool or nylon. Polypropylene is commonly used to construct berber carpets. In this case, polypropylene is commonly referred to as olefin. Large looped olefin berber carpets are usually only suited for light domestic use and tend to mat down quickly. Berber carpets with smaller loops tend to be more resilient and retain their new appearance longer than large looped berber styles.
Commercial grade level-loop carpets have very small loops, and commercial grade cut-pile styles are well constructed. When made with polypropylene these styles wear very well, making them very suitable for areas with heavy foot traffic such as offices. Polypropylene carpets are known to have good stain resistance.
Wool has excellent durability, can be dyed easily and is fairly abundant. When blended with synthetic fibres such as nylon, the durability of wool is increased.
Blended wool yarns are extensively used in the production of modern carpets, with the most common blend being 80% wool to 20% synthetic fibre, giving rise to the term "80/20". Wool is relatively expensive and consequently a small portion of the market.
Wool and wool blends
Polyester known as "PET" (polyethylene terephthalate) is used in carpet manufacturing in both spun and filament constructions. After the price of raw materials for many types of carpet rose in the early 2000s, polyester became more competitive.
Polyester has good physical properties and is inherently stain-resistant because it is hydrophobic, and, unlike nylon, does not have dye sites. Colour is infused in a molten state (solution dyeing). Polyester has the disadvantage that it tends to crush or mat down easily. It is typically used in mid- to low-priced carpeting.